California State Assembly, District 28
We must prioritize children, and I will always be an advocate to protect our most vulnerable community members. I am a strong proponent of equity, and I will work to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
In a recent poll by Choose Children 2022 of likely general election voters, more than half of parents with children under age 18 say they are likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how will you make our region a place where all families can thrive?
Quality education, affordable and accessible healthcare including mental healthcare, and addressing the housing crisis. We must make a greater investment in public education from early-childhood education through higher education. We know that investments in early education and childcare, mental health care, extra-curricular activities, and after-school programs all play a critical role in improving outcomes for students and ultimately for communities. Quality healthcare, including mental healthcare, should be affordable and accessible to everyone, regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay. We must address our housing crisis and develop more affordable housing.
As we have learned over the past three years, without quality, affordable, childcare, parents can’t go to work. What will you do to address challenges accessing childcare and preschool programs in our diverse communities?
We need to provide support and resources to young children and families, and I will support funding to help ensure that this aid is available. Child care is an equity issue, and we must support programs to ensure child care is available, affordable and accessible. I will support funding for high-quality child care, especially for those most in need. I will advocate for expansion of the number of slots, rates and wages for child care in California, as well as early childhood education - pre-school and transitional kindergarten.
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the opportunity gap that children in low-income families and children of color confront (e.g., lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors, and enrichment activities). If elected, what will you do to increase equity of opportunity?
All children deserve an equal opportunity for a quality education. I will work to increase funding for needed education programs, including special education, the arts, vocational training programs, and any other pathway that will prepare students for higher education or the job market. I will also work to expand funding for grant programs for tuition and other educational costs so students aren’t drowning in loan debt. We are not doing enough and we can do better.
What steps will you take to support inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities and their families to be fully included in our community?
This is another area that I am very passionate about. We must ensure funding for critical services and we must ensure early access to these services. In 2010, I was honored to receive the Kudos Award from the Santa Cruz County Commission on Disabilities, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for our children with specific needs.
There is a mental health crisis among children, youth, and those who care for and educate them. If elected, how will you use the resources of your new role to improve access to mental and behavioral health services?
My family has been profoundly impacted by mental health, and I will be a strong advocate for mental health resources, especially for our youth. I am a member of the NAMI board which provides vital programs and services to our community. The emergency mental health hotline, 988, is a good start, but there is much that needs to be done, especially when suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for children ages 10 to 15. We need mental health counselors in schools, mobile mental health care, and places where those suffering can receive services and care.